New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday announced more funding and support to target violent extremist content online, just months after an alleged white supremacist live-streamed a massacre at two mosques in Christchurch.
The attack on March 15 that killed 51 Muslim worshippers was live-streamed on Facebook, and the video was shared on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook-owned apps Whatsapp and Instagram.
Ardern said the government was investing NZ$17 million ($10.73 million) over four years to boost New Zealand’s ability to find, stop and stamp out terrorist and violent extremist content online quickly.
During a press briefing, Ardern said that the investment would be used to double the investigative, forensic, intelligence and prevention work of the Department of Internal Affairs.
According to a government statement, a new team of 17 people will be dedicated to tackling such content.
The new department’s powers include investigating and prosecuting those committing offences through both proactive detection and working with international and domestic partners, it added.
“Our online world must be a force for good where we can exchange ideas, share technology, and maintain civil liberties while protecting New Zealanders from objectionable content,” Ardern said in the statement.
“Countering violent extremism online is an important part of our response to the March 15 terrorist attacks,” she added.
Their commitment was tested last week as social media firms scrambled to scrub footage of a shooting outside a German synagogue that was live-streamed on Amazon’s gaming subsidiary Twitch.
Ardern later said during the press conference that last week, the attack in Germany was another reminder of the threat of online extremism.
Earlier this year in March, PM Ardern, said that she intends to ask Facebook how the Christchurch gunman, who slaughtered 50 people during prayers, was able to live stream the massacre.
In a press conference, Ardern was quoted by IANS as saying that the New Zealand Government did its best to take down the video, but its power to do so is limited.